Testimonial by Chris G., Technical Project Manager since 2016 @Flanders Make
Chris leads the Drivetrain Codesign project , an industry-driven research project on the design of optimal powertrains for machines and their product family.
As Technical Project Manager it is my role to ensure that we deliver results with industrial impact. Together with a colleague, I visit the partner companies at the start of the project to really capture the needs of the companies.
In this project 4 industrial partners are involved (Picanol, VandeWiele, Dana and Siemens) with a shared interest in this new technology. Essentially they all need the best and cheapest solution to steer the motions in their machines; whether it is a weaving loom or a heavy vehicle. The goal of the project is to set up an integrated framework to simultaneously optimize physical parameters (such as size / strength motor, dimensioning gearing, ...) and control (such as energy efficiency) in the most economical way. In addition, we want to extend this new framework for one machine to a framework for an entire product family in which a lot of variants are designed simultaneously.
In every project, there are academic research partners involved. Here we collaborated with our colleagues from the core labs PMA-P (KU Leuven) and EEDT-MP (UGent). I regularly bring all partners together. I propose the agenda and lead the discussions. Working together with so many partners (private and academic) keeps you on your whits. I can't afford to get lost in one specific technical detail.
Ensuring all researchers understand the needs of the companies is a very big part of the job. I have to make sure they aren't stuck in theoretical aspects.
Before working at Flanders Make, I had some management experience for a supplier in the automotive industry. My knowledge background is electro-mechanical and mechatronics. Today one of my projects is completely out of my comfort zone: additive manufacturing processes.